Anyone who’s read more than a couple of my blogs will know that I have a pretty familiar autumn routine, hitting one or two of the same races almost every year going as far back as 2008. This year things were a bit different but I’m still delighted with what I managed to achieve, including my first ever solo marathon two and a half years after the immortal “no more marathons”.
2020 has been the year of a few things. There’s the little matter of a global pandemic and everything surrounding it. It’s been a year of tragic, barely-imaginable loss and heartbreak. The year of lockdown, of not being able to visit any of our loved ones, our friends and family. The year of oh-so-many video calls, of virtual pub quizzes, of substituting sitting in the pub with your mates with sitting on your sofa and getting slowly inebriated while talking all over each other and trying to factor in a delay into the conversation. The year of working from home, of days of meetings over Zoom and Teams, feeling knackered at 5pm just by virtue of speaking into a camera for an entire day.
All of that, but also: it’s been The Year of the Run.
One of the things that I’ve been super impressed by is how the running community has sprung into action with various challenges to keep us all motivated with all of the actual races currently on hiatus.
Back in April I decided to take part in my first ever virtual races, and very rewarding they were too. Both runs were totally solo efforts though, and with some of my favourite ever races being the ones I’ve done with my wife and various friends and family over the years it was time to try and do something as a group, a team challenge in these socially-distanced times.
With the official announcement postponing the 2020 Manchester Marathon coming relatively close to the intended event date I was just going over the very top of the peak of my training plan and so I began to moot ideas to try and still mark the occasion in some way and not let it all go to waste.
The result of all this was the findarace.com Plan B Virtual Half Marathon; a chance to stretch my legs at race pace, earn a cool little medal and raise a bit of money.
Those of you who caught my last blog will be aware that another marathon was all coming, but what I didn’t mention was that my return to action will be fundraising one, aiming to (hopefully) raise a nice big total for The Christie.
And this is why.
The 2018 London Marathon was literally the hardest thing I have ever done, ever. It was, almost from the get go, unrelentingly, leg-shatteringly, teeth-grindingly difficult. The warmest race I have ever run, literally the hottest London Marathon on record. A horrendous experience, almost from start to the eventual finish. So why have I entered the ballot for 2019?
Because, as with last year, it was one of the best experiences of my entire life.